An inquiry into Fan Practices as related to Speculative Fiction realised through a Contemporary Visual Art Practice

Roy Ananda
2015 Conference

My research examines the intersection of pop-culture fandom (particularly as it relates to various forms of speculative fiction) and contemporary art practice. While the term ‘fan’ may have once been understood to refer to a passive consumer of popular media, contemporary fans of the horror, science-fiction and fantasy genres are increasingly involved in the creation and development of shared fictional universes. By engaging in activities such as cosplay, replica prop-building, game design and the writing of fan fiction, devoted fans re-experience, commemorate and extend on the various imaginary worlds they inhabit. Generally such activities are undertaken for personal satisfaction and to communicate to a small audience of like-minded people at conventions or through on-line communities. What then are the ramifications of using the tropes and strategies of fandom within an art practice that communicates to audiences who may not share the same rabid enthusiasm for the source material? Similarly, can an established pop-culture franchise act as a valid starting point for creating what are ostensibly ‘original’ works of contemporary visual art? This paper considers ways that the sensibilities and motivations of the devoted fan might mesh with the poetic, communicative and critical function of visual art practice.

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About the author

Roy Ananda is a South Australian artist, writer and educator. He has been actively exhibiting since 2001, creating objects, drawings, installations and videos that variously celebrate pop-culture fandom, play, process and the very act of making. He has lectured at Adelaide Central School of Art for over ten years and is currently undertaking postgraduate research at the University of South Australia’s School of Art, Architecture and Design with a particular focus on the intersection of speculative fiction, fandom and contemporary art practice.